Aberdeenshire UNISON

Motions AGM 2014

Protection of social work members in contempt proceedings

This AGM is deeply concerned about recent events in Edinburgh and locally, where contempt of court proceedings have been brought against social work staff as individuals whilst acting in their social work role to fulfil their statutory duties consistent with their codes of practice.

Social work members have an overriding legal duty to ensure the child’s welfare is paramount in all that they do. However, it seems the paramountcy of the welfare of the children is not considered relevant during contempt proceedings. UNISON believes this constitutes a conflict of laws which places those working on the frontline in a very difficult and vulnerable position.

The fact that individuals, rather than the organisation they work for, have been put in this position has wide-ranging implications for the employer/employee relationship and could have a ripple effect on all frontline workers and this AGM is concerned that this may also compromise the welfare of the children for whom our social work members care.

The court ruling in Edinburgh highlights the need for a legislative review and this AGM welcomes UNISON Scotland’s call for ministers to address this as a matter of urgency and congratulates UNISON for providing legal support and standing by the members concerned. Without UNISON membership, some of these workers could have faced individual legal costs running into tens of thousands of pounds.

This AGM calls on the Branch to

  1. Ensure that all our members in social work have guidance on how best to ensure their protection from allegations of contempt of court.Make sure that steps are taken to provide members who do find themselves in this position, with legal advice and representation at the earliest possible stage.
  2. Publicise these matters to all staff in social work and encourage them to join a trade union for their own protection.
  3. Monitor local and national developments in relation to this and communicate these to our members through Briefings, the Branch website and the Branch Newsletter.
  4. Take this issue to the Local Government Service Group Conference to raise awareness nationally.

It further calls on UNISON Scotland  

  1. To continue to press the Scottish Government for a legislative review and ensure that UNISON’s voice is heard in any such review.
  2. To continue to campaign for legal changes through UNISON Scotland’s Social Work Issues Group.
  3. To mount, in consultation with branches, an awareness and recruitment campaign among all social work and social care staff across Scotland.

Proposer: Kate Ramsden
Seconded: James Mullholland


Pay 2014/2015 - We're Worth It!

This Branch condemns the imposition by CoSLA of a two year 1% pay rise for 2013/14 and 2014/15, despite our members voting in a ballot in good faith to accept CoSLA’s one year 1% offer. CoSLA’s action outwith the agreed bargaining structures (colluded with by at least one other trade union) to impose what is in effect a further two year pay cut, is a slap in the face to local government workers.

While we welcome the application of the Living Wage in Aberdeenshire and the increases to basic pay as part of the terms and conditions changes, our members are still faced with the reality that the value of local government pay has fallen at least 13% since 2010. Workers in Scotland are on average £1,753 worse off, with the gender pay gap widening. This is the longest real wage pay squeeze since 1870. For the first time, we have more in-work poverty than out-of-work poverty.

Meanwhile top earners continue to amass obscene wealth, profiting from austerity. In the last four years the wealth of Britain's 1,000 richest people has soared by a staggering £190bn to £449bn. The country is not broke, it is just the money is in the wrong hands.

There is a growing realisation that this is not about what the country can afford, it is about an ideology of planned poverty and a low wage, low skill economy. We must organise to get that message out to members.

This Branch therefore welcomes UNISON Scottish Local Government’s decision to ignore CoSLA’s 1% imposition for 2014/15 and to build to lodge a pay claim in 2014.

This Branch recognises that action on pay will not be delivered unless we fully consult and engage with members on why a decent pay rise is affordable, why it would boost local economies and why we are ‘Worth it’ in the words of the UNISON campaign.
This Branch calls on the Branch Committee to:-

    1. Support stewards to set up workplace meetings throughout the first part of this year, to consult and campaign with members
    2. Provide information and publicity for stewards and Branch Officers to take forward the arguments with members and to recruit non-members.
    3. Take forward a motion to Local Government Conference calling on the Local Government Service Group Executive to continue their co-ordination of a UK campaign to challenge this Government’s rhetoric and dogma and to make the arguments why increasing the pay of public service workers is not just good for our members but also for the wider economy.

Proposer: Inez Teece
Seconder: Ashok Mehta


Exposing cuts to services and workplace stress

This Branch believes that the current level of cuts by the Westminster and Holyrood governments is threatening the very viability of Local Government. Local councils have already been singled out by both governments for the lion's share of cuts and more are planned.

This Branch believes that statements about 'protecting front line services' are grossly misleading. Services are being cut by stealth. Job losses mean that front-line staff are struggling with increased workloads and many are finding that expected levels of service are impossible to meet.

Aberdeenshire UNISON’s stress survey has shown increasing levels of stress at work leading to sickness absence and even more pressure on those left to provide the services.

This branch therefore resolves to:-
1. Call on the Branch Committee, through the workplace stewards, to continue to monitor and analyse the impact of the cuts and to prepare material for publicising case studies and the true effect of cuts.
2. Engage fully with UNISON Scotland's lead in the debate about fairer and more progressive local government funding.
3. Engage with existing connections via the Trades Union Council, local community groups, service users and organisations like the People's Assembly to build a broad coalition against the cuts.
4. Use all resources available to the Branch to protect members from excessive workloads and unacceptable working conditions by:-
a) Putting resources into building and supporting a wider network of shop stewards
b) Working with members to resist increasing workloads and poor working conditions
c) Led by the Branch Health and Safety Officers, campaigning to ensure that workplaces are “fit for purpose” and that workplace stress is identified and addressed.

Proposer: Steve Gray
Seconder: Richard Lawrence


Administration of medications motion 2014

This AGM raises concerns in regard to the expectation of Pupil Support Assistants across Aberdeenshire being put under increasing pressure to provide the administration of medications. Currently our members not only support but in some cases, against our advice, administer medications on a voluntary basis. We feel that this is putting those members at risk with no accountability for appropriate training, monitoring or support from the authority.

We are aware that this is a growing issue across the UK but have been finding it increasingly difficult to pull together a cohesive strategy across all UNISON branches to tackle how administration of medications within schools is dealt with. With inclusion being key to education there are an increasing number of pupils entering the school system requiring anything from a Paracetamol to intrusive medical intervention, all of which require substantial medical training and healthcare provider support. We know that this is not happening and authorities are getting away with accessing healthcare on the cheap.

Two years ago UNISON put together advice for the administration of medications, for members working in schools, which we applauded at the time, but our authority like many others,  would like to make the administration of medications compulsory for all PSA’s. We have fought against this but we are under increasing pressure and due to cuts to staffing over the past three years the voluntary option is becoming more unmanageable and unsafe for our members working in some of the Children’s Service Networks across Aberdeenshire.

This AGM calls on the branch to:

  • Continue to negotiate with the authority on administration of medications, including re-visiting pay scale for those supporting medications.
  • Build alliances with other UNISON branches through the Education Issues Group to work on best practise across Scotland.
  • To take a motion to National Delegate Conference calling for the NEC to:-
  • Review and strengthen the current guidance on Administration of Medications working in partnership with Local Government and Health branches.
  • To campaign and lobby the government to increase the budgets for the administration of medications in schools across the UK.
  • To ensure that the training for the support of medications is clearly set under strict guidelines and practise procedures to protect our members.

Proposer: Susan Kennedy


Campaign for Affordable Council House Building Programme

This AGM believes that homes are for people not profits.

It believes that putting profits before people has resulted the in the national housing crisis that affects UNISON members and other people on low to middle incomes; and in the growing inequality in our society where houses are seen as assets and those with the money monopolise those assets while the rest of society suffers.

This AGM recognises that affordable housing is in desperately short supply and is inadequate to meet to the needs of the 7,500 households on the waiting list in Aberdeenshire, the 180,000 in Scotland, and the many more households in England and Wales .  

The lack of affordable housing marginalises people, breaks up families and ruins communities.

Housing that is affordable, secure, fit for purpose and responsive to the needs of local communities is essential to a Fair Society and the private sector has not been able to deliver these homes.

The AGM notes that the 1930’s Council House programme not only housed people, it provided jobs that helped the UK economy to recover from the Great Depression, revitalised local communities, peoples sense of identity and offered hope to millions for a better, healthier life.  

A 21st century public sector led house building programme could deliver similar benefits, reduce welfare costs and the rents could be reinvested instead of being dumped in an offshore tax haven.

This AGM believes that we need a new generation of Council housing built by the people for the people now!  A new public sector led house building programme is an investment in our future not a luxury.

The UNISON Aberdeenshire branch therefore resolves to:-
 1. Engage fully with UNISON Scotland in campaigning for a new council house building programme.
2. Engage with the Aberdeen and Scottish Trades Union Councils, Shelter, other like minded groups, and the People's Assembly to build a broad coalition to support a campaign for new council house building.
3. Take a motion to National Delegate Conference calling for UNISON’s campaign for affordable housing to be stepped up and work through Labour Link to lobby for investment in new council house build across the UK.

Proposer: Steve Gray
Seconder: Naida Sneddon